A hepatic cyst or liver cyst is, simply put, a cyst on the liver of an organism. It is usually referred to as a simple cyst or non parasitic cyst. These typically cause no complications or even symptoms, and often require no treatment, unless they are causing complications in the patient. Doctors are still trying to figure out what causes most of these cysts, but in some cases, they can be caused by serious medical complications.
In the majority of cases, the cause of a hepatic cyst is unknown. Many doctors believe, however, that these cysts are most likely genetic and already present when a person is born. A small percentage of these cysts are caused by other serious medical problems. Certain diseases, such as polycystic liver disease, Caroli's disease, and liver cancer, can cause a number of cysts to form on the liver.
Another, more uncommon, cause of these cysts is a parasitic infection of the liver, known as echinococcal or hydatic disease. This often happens when food contaminated with the eggs of a certain type of tapeworm is ingested. In the United States, this disease is quite rare, but a few cases have been reported. More commonly, it can be found in countries in South America, Africa, and Asia.
Usually filled with a fluid or thick liquid, a hepatic cyst will rarely cause any complications or symptoms in the patient. Many of them will go undetected for years or possibly a lifetime. Diagnosis usually occurs during treatment or tests for another, often unrelated, condition. When they are discovered, they are typically monitored by a physician for any change in size or other possible complications.
If a hepatic cyst becomes too large, however, the patient may experience some symptoms. These symptoms can include abdominal pain or swelling, often caused by the enlargement of the liver or a blocked bile duct. When a normally benign cyst becomes infected, it can also cause problems, and treatment may then be necessary.
Depending on the cause of a hepatic cyst, treatment options can vary. If an infection is the cause, a course of antibiotic drugs is usually necessary to clear it up. Other treatment options include surgically removing the cyst or draining it. Also, treating any underlying diseases that may be causing the cysts is important, as these can possible be fatal or cause further complications. Any cysts on the liver will most likely be removed to prevent problems.